Genesis 057 – The Gift of GoodbyeGenesis 13:1-12 • Dr. Andy Woods • November 7, 2021 • Genesis
The Gift of Goodbye
Good morning, everybody. Let’s take our Bible’s, if we could, this morning and open them to the book of Genesis, chapter 13. Look at that, we’re moving, from chapter 12 to chapter 13. Let’s see if we can move a chapter before next year, amen.
The title of our message this morning is “The Gift of Goodbye.” And as you know we’ve been working our way through the book of Genesis in our main service here on Sunday mornings. We’ve completed Genesis 1 through 11 and its four major events: creation, fall, flood, and national dispersion. The key thing to keep in mind as we have worked our way through this is, although man has a problem, and he’s had it ever since the fall, God has a solution, and that solution is Genesis 3 verse 15.
Which announces at the dawn of human history that there’s coming a messiah to
make everything right. We just celebrated him this morning at the Lord’s Table. His name, as you know, is the Lord Jesus Christ.
But God, beginning now in chapters 12 through 50, raises up a special nation to mediate his messianic blessings to the world, the nation through whom this messiah will come.
And so the focus in chapters 12 through 50 moves away from four events to four
people, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. And then how the nation is preserved through the life of Joseph. And the thing to keep in mind is that this is a newborn baby that’s coming forward. This special nation. This is why the book of Isaiah, concerning the nation of Israel, says “your Creator O Jacob, and he who formed you, O Israel.”
Israel is unique amongst the nations of the earth, because she is a special creation of God,
and God begins to bring forth this special nation as he begins to deal with this man
named “Abraham,” who originally was named “Abram.”
He took this man Abram, Genesis 12 verses 1 through 3, and he gave him unconditional promises. One of those promises is of personal blessing. You’re going to see it today in our passage in chapter 13.
And he called this man to walk by faith, to leave his comfort zone, to leave what he knew and understood and he began to walk to a place that God didn’t even tell him where he was going.
And he ventured from Ur of the Chaldeans up north to an area that today is called
“Damascus.” A place in the Bible called Haran
And as Abram’s walk with the Lord continues, he moves from Haran back down south to this land that God promised him, the land called Canaan. And in verses 6 through 9 of Genesis 12, God deals with Abram in Canaan.
But then last week as we saw in verses 10 through 20 of Genesis 12, Abram sort of
stops trusting the Lord. God never told him to leave and go to Egypt, but he did anyway, because he was trying to sort of work his way out of a human problem, a famine, and then he develops a fabrication because of the beauty of his wife.
“When Pharaoh sees you make sure you tell him that I’m your sister,” said Abram, which is a half-truth. It’s a manipulation. And although God is Abram’s, Abram rather is God’s man, Abram still has a lot of growing to do. Amen?
Kind of sounds like us. God wants to use us but he’s got to bring this man Abram to the next level of maturity, and that’s what his failure, there in Egypt, was designed to get him to recognize. He’s going to live his life for God, not according to human manipulation and human scheming, but he’s going to live his life unto God through relying upon God’s promises.
And Abram has to learn that lesson in Egypt.
And now as we come to genesis chapter 13 verses 1 through 12, God is going to do something else for this man, Abram, he’s going to separate him. He’s going to sanctify him. He’s going to separate him from things that are probably going to drag him down. And God is preparing him to receive something very special in Genesis 15 called the Abrahamic covenant. But he can’t give him that gift until he’s ready to receive it.
You don’t give a five-year-old kid the keys to the car. You’ve got to wait for them to mature to
a certain level, then and even then, you might not give them the keys to the car.
But the point is, people cannot enjoy a gift, they can’t even use a gift, until they reach a certain level of maturity. And so this is God’s issue with this man Abram.
And the Egyptian sojourn, where he went to Egypt, is designed to help him to grow, and to understand that he doesn’t live his life through human manipulation and scheming.
Well now we come here to chapter 13 verses 1 through 13, we’ll see if we can cover these today, where Abram and Lot separate.
So here is our outline for chapter 13 verses 1 through 13, looks like it has about seven parts to it. Notice if you will part number one: Abram now journeys from Egypt, where God never called him to, back to the land of Canaan to a place called the Negev. And notice, if you will, Genesis chapter 13. And notice, if you will, verse 1: “So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife, and all that belonged to him, and Lot was with him.”
So there’s where Abram was in Egypt, and now he is venturing back to the land of promise, the land of Canaan, and he goes back to a place that he was familiar with in the south of the land, a place called the Negev.
And you notice all of the things that were with Abram as he went. Number one, his wife was with him, Sarai. Number two, it says, “all,” verse one, “that belonged to him was with him.”
And this is the interesting thing about Abram is even in disobedience he gets more wealthy. Now why in the world would that happen?
Well it happens because of Genesis 12 verse 2, where God told Abram, “I will bless you.”
He didn’t say, “I will bless you, if,” or, “I will bless you, because.” He simply made him an unconditional promise, more on that in just a minute.
So his wife was with him, all that belonged to him was with him, and now Lot is with him. Apparently Lot was with Abram in Egypt. This is the first glimpse that we have of that. We assumed it was true, but now we’re given ironclad proof, and the reason the story now focuses on Lot is because Lot is going to become a big deal here in chapter 13.
And then Lot is going to become an even bigger deal in chapter 14. And then Lot is going to become a big, big, big deal in chapter 19. So all of this is sort of setting the stage for things that are coming in the book of Genesis.
Notice if you will verse 2. It says, “now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and
in gold.” He wasn’t just rich, the Bible says, “he was very rich.” And he had three things: silver, gold, and livestock. It’s interesting that no matter where Abram goes God seems to bless his wealth.
This happened up in Haran, possessions were added to him, Genesis 12 verse 5. It happened again in Egypt, even while Abram was disobedient, Genesis 12 verse 16. And the reason it keeps happening is, because of letter c there, a personal promise of blessing God gave
to the patriarch Abram.
These promises are necessary to launch this special nation that will mediate messianic blessings
to the entire world. This expression, “rich,” is interesting, or “very rich.” To my knowledge this is the first time the word “wealth,” “rich” or “riches” is mentioned in the Bible. And Abram was experiencing these things even though he did not deserve them., kind of like us.
By the way, did you know that God, Ephesians chapter 1 verse 3, has blessed you with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places? So you don’t have to go to God anymore, crawling on hands and knees, asking God to bless you. The Bible says you’re already maxed out. God is saying, “What else do you want? Your ledger is full.
The account, spiritually speaking, is full, and you didn’t earn any of those blessings. Neither did I. They’re given to us unconditionally from God above. This is what Abram is experiencing here with material wealth.
The story goes on, as he makes a trip now, that he’s in the land of Canaan, from the Negev, south part of the land, back to an area that he knew very well: Bethel and Ai. And notice if you will, verse three.
It says, “he went on his journey from the Negev as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai.” And so this may look familiar to you, this is where Abram went, that first red arrow down. Bethel and Ai.
And thank you to pastor Jim for waving a magic wand and getting the words “West Bank” off that map, amen? So he goes to Bethel and Ai, the first red arrow there, and what happens there notice, if you will, verse 4: “to the place of the altar, which he had made there formerly, and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.”
So he does exactly what he did initially in chapter 12. When he came from Haran, he goes to Bethel and AI, he makes an altar, and he calls on the name of the Lord. Now, it’s interesting here it says, “the place where he had been formerly.”
Why would he go back to that same place? I largely believe it’s a recommitment to the Lord
after a failure, because he’s blown it. He’s done something God never told him to do. He’s told a lie about it, and he’s tried to live through human scheming and human manipulation.
And so God brings him back to where it all started. And I believe he is recommitting his life to the Lord.
And some of my favorite words in the Bible are found in the book of Jonah chapter 3 and verse 1. It says, “now the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.” Aren’t you glad
about that? You can’t get a character more out of the will of God than Jonah in Jonah 1
and 2. God says, “go to the east.” He went, if you look at a map, the exact opposite
direction to the west. He ran from his calling. He ran from obedience to God. And when we do that, God has a way of getting our attention, just like he did Jonah, just like he did Abram.
And we think that once we’re corrected that somehow God is finished with us, and that God doesn’t want to use us anymore. But the truth of the matter is, God is far more gracious than most Christian’s are.
God is a God of grace that is unlimited, and he is the type of God that wants to pick you up, dust us off, and get us moving on the right path. It’s interesting to me that the apostle Peter, in the New Testament, denied the Lord publicly not once, not twice, but three times. And when the Lord had resurrected from the dead, there is that scene of Jesus and Peter on the beach in John 21 verses 15 through 17, where the Lord says to Peter, not once, not twice, but three times, “Do you love me? If you love me then feed my sheep.” “In other words, Peter, you denied me three times, and now I’m giving you a threefold restoration, and I’m commissioning you to go feed my sheep.”
And Peter at that point, as an undeserving sinner, walked directly into the grace of God. And when you study the book of Acts, which follows, you’ll see very fast that there is no more
central of a character to the life and the birth of the early church than God’s dealings with Peter.
It’s Peter, the man whose mouth was used to deny the Lord three times. It’s Peter and his mouth that the Holy Spirit used on that opening sermon on the day of Pentecost, which resulted in 3,000 conversions. That’s God’s grace. And I say that because we need to hear about the grace of God. Because, none of us, if left to our natural abilities and natural devices, would measure up. And we disqualify ourselves. And we forget very fast that disqualification would work if God was dealing with us on the basis of justice. But he is not. He is dealing with us on the basis of grace.
Proverbs 24 and verse 16 says, “for a righteous man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in time of calamity. If within the sound of my voice, you’ve fallen, God’s agenda for you following repentance, is to pick you right back up again and he wants to use your life for purposes that are far greater than what we even know or understand.
And so as you look at this man Abram, you’re seeing a man that’s growing. You’re seeing a man that didn’t do well at the end of chapter 12, but he clearly is growing. He wants to get back with God, he wants to get right with God, and he starts making decisions here where he’s obviously
no longer relying upon human manipulation to solve problems.
But he’s obviously walking by way of faith. So what happens and how this is demonstrated is a conflict among the herdsmen of Lot, his nephew, and Abram. And this starts there in verse
- Notice if you will Genesis 13 verse 5: “Now Lot who went with Abram also had flocks and herds and tents.”
So clearly Lot, verse 1, went with Abram to Egypt. That’s our second affirmation of that. And it’s interesting that Lot also was a man of means. He was a man of wealth as well. And I think the reason that Lot was wealthy is because of his association with Abram.
It’s kind of like something that we’re going to eventually get to in the book of Genesis concerning Joseph. In Genesis 39 and verse 5 it will say, “the Lord blessed the Egyptians house on account of Joseph.” Joseph, because of circumstances as we’ll explain later on in the book of Genesis, was working in the Egyptians house and the whole house was blessed because of Joseph.
Abram is blessed and those blessings suddenly spill over into the life of his nephew Lot, but there’s a fundamental difference between Abram and Lot. Both were wealthy by Old Testament standards, but what’s the difference? The difference is Abram owned possessions, but Lot was owned by his possessions. Abram had possessions, but possessions possessed Lot.
There’s nothing wrong with material blessings. There’s nothing wrong with having property or owning things. The problem becomes when those things own you. You don’t have them but they have you. You don’t own them but they are actually owning you. You don’t just possess them, but they are possessing you.
There’s much, much teaching in the Bible about how you can’t love both God and mammon, or money. For either you’ll be devoted to the one, and serve the reject the other, or vice versa. You can’t have it both ways. The Bible never says, “money is the is the root of all evil.” It says, “love of money is the root of all evil.”
And so Abram was wealthy, but he sort of held on to his possessions loosely. Lot, as we will see, was holding on to things very, very tightly. And there’s a difference in spiritual caliber between these men.
And there’s nothing that reveals the heart of people more than a conflict. Don’t show me something, when they’re on top of the world, what their character is like. I’ll be able to ascertain what their character is like when I see them in a valley. I know that my own heart, you don’t determine whether it really loves God when everything is rolling along just fine. You ascertain my heart unto God when I begin to walk through difficulty.
And so as you move into verse 6 what you see here is a conflict develops, which quickly reveals the different levels of spirituality or character in these two men, Abram and Lot. So what is this conflict about? Look if you will at Genesis 13, look at verse 6. It says, “and the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together.”
Now why would it say this? The clue to it is back in Genesis 12 verse 6, where it indicates that the Canaanites were already in the land. There were Canaanite cities all over the land of Israel. And because there were Canaanite cities all over the land of Israel, there really wasn’t proper places for people with large herds to go.
And because both men had very large herds, which is a sign of wealth in Old Testament times, suddenly there’s a conflict between the herdsmen of Lot, and the herdsmen of Abram, regarding space.
It’s interesting to me that this conflict is really not something that’s personal. It’s not between Abram and Lot, so much as it’s between the employees of Abram, and the employees of Lot, so to speak. And you see that there in verse 7 it says, “there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock.”
Now this word “strife” is an interesting one. It’s the Hebrew word “meribah” or “meriva.” Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes, “the Hebrew word for ‘strife’ is ‘merivah,’ the same word
used of the strife in the wilderness wanderings,” he gives many scriptures there, “while in Exodus, Numbers, and the psalms, the word ‘marava’ became a technical name for a specific place in the Sinai wilderness where strife occurred. Here the word is merely used as a descriptive term for what is going on.” There’s conflict now between these two groups, and when you look also at verse 7, continuing on with the verse, it says, “now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling in the land.” This is the whole problem.
Through Noah’s son ham came a group of people called the Canaanites. The Canaanites, and those are all of the “ites” you read about in the Bible, the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Gergashites, the Hivites, the Archites, the Sinaites, the Arvadites, the Zimmerites, the Homophite, and the Perizzites, a lot of “ites” there.
These are people that went, prior to the time of Abram, went into the land of Canaan, Canaanites, and that’s where this name “Canaan” comes from. And they built little
Cities, or city-states, all over the land of Canaan. And because it was a populated area,
there really wasn’t ample room for these two flocks to find pasture, and so there was sort of a conflict between the two.
It’s interesting he mentions the Perizzite, and only the Perizzite here, probably because the Perizzites were in the specific area, or the specific region, where this conflict developed. So this raises a very interesting question.
Conflict. Has anybody ever had any conflict in their life? I mean, how do you look exactly
at conflict? There’s conflict in the home, there’s conflict in marriage, there’s conflict on the job.
You have a situations even in the church, very sadly, where conflict occurs and you have people that love Jesus equally, that don’t seem to be on the same page. They don’t seem to get along.
And our natural tendency is to think that all conflict is negative. “Every time conflict occurs it must be bad,” we think. And I’m here to tell you that that’s not always the case.
The conflict could be something that God providentially deposited in your lap because he has a higher purpose in mind. You go to the book of Acts, chapter 15 verses 36 through 41, where there was a conflict between Paul and Barnabas regarding whether John Mark was going to
go with the missionary team on missionary journey number two.
John Mark bailed out of missionary journey number one, and Paul the apostle said, “there’s no way we’re taking that kid on missionary journey number two.” Barnabas disagreed and Acts 15 verse 39 says, there occurred, and this is very interesting language, such a sharp disagreement, that it wasn’t a disagreement. It was an intense, sharp conflict between these two men of God.
There occurred such a sharp conflict that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took mark with him, and sailed away to Cyprus.
Now why would Luke include that? Because Luke is trying to document the progress of the church: ethnically, geographically, and numerically. And guess what we don’t just have one missionary team now, we’ve got two. Two is better than one. The two can cover more distance. And what caused the two to develop? it was a conflict. It was a difference in visions, it was
people of God seeing things through a different grid, and when that happens, we have a tendency to say, “oh, that’s terrible, that’s terrible, that’s terrible, that’s terrible.” But I’m here to tell you that when it happened in the book of Acts, it was actually a blessing in disguise, because now we have two missionary teams instead of one.
And what I’m here to communicate to you is what is happening here to Abram, it probably wasn’t fun to go through it, but it was actually a blessing to him, because it was separating him from someone that was most likely going to drag him down, and Abram could not have become
the man that he became in God had this separation not occurred.
This conflict was necessary for Abraham’s, or Abram’s, sanctification. And so you should pay attention to this in your life because God will use the same pattern with you. First Corinthians chapter 15 and verse 33 says, “Do not be deceived. Bad company corrupts good morals. Second Corinthians chapter 14, excuse me Second Corinthians chapter 6 verses 14, and following, says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers, for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light and darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever.”
You’re in certain relationships where the person in that relationship with you could be hindering you, could be pulling you down, and God will work providentially many times to separate you from that person. It could be someone that loves Jesus just like you do and someone that is filled with the Holy Spirit just like you are. But God is saying, “that person is not good for you, so I’ll create a situation where a separation occurs.
There have been, during my time here at Sugarland Bible Church, countless people that have left this church, upset about this, angry about that. You always try to work with people. You always try to be as gracious, and as loving, and as kind as you can possibly be. But the truth of the matter, in hindsight, as you look back, a lot of those people, quite frankly, should have gone and needed to go, because they were just on a different page. Their presence was a hindrance to what God wanted to do here. So God will create a conflict, a strife, and don’t always interpret it as something that’s negative. It could be something that’s very, very positive.
Here is some of the best advice I ever got in ministry from anyone. The piece of advice is this: If someone wants to leave the church, don’t try to talk them out of it. Don’t beg and plead, “we’ll change everything, we’ll do it your way. We need you here so bad.
The truth of the matter is, if you start doing that then then God’s process of weeding people out is hindered. Because every, and this has been my personal experience here, every negative, toxic person that God has weeded out, he’s brought in five more people that are on the same page as us here at Sugarland Bible Church. This kind of thing will happen in your business, this kind of thing will happen in your dealings with people, this thing this kind of thing will happen in your friendships. And I like to call it “the gift of goodbye.”
This is not a phrase I made up, I heard another pastor speak of this. And he simply called it “the gift of goodbye.” Sometimes to say “goodbye,” that’s a gift. Accept that, embrace it. It doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love them. It doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have a story for them. But they’re not necessarily part of your story, because your story can’t be fully executed unless certain separations occur. This is the normal part of progressive sanctification. This is what God is doing with this man, Lot who was his [Abraham’s] nephew. The two of them were just on a different page. And it’ll become obvious in a minute, in terms of maturity.
“Abram you can’t become what you’re supposed to become, and receive that Abrahamic covenant, and have a walk with me that’s so obedient that you’ll be willing to sacrifice Isaac. None of Genesis 22,” the height of Abraham’s walk with the Lord,” can come about as long as this guy is pulling you down.”
When I’ve taught this in my classes, at the College of Biblical Studies, typically what I’ve done is stand up on a chair, I won’t do that for you today, and I usually have someone in the class, I just say, “Come up to the chair, I’m standing on the chair, and grab my arm.” And I ask the class, “Is it easier for me to pull the person up or for them to pull me down?”
The answer is obvious. The law of gravity is on their side. It’s far easier for them to pull me down than for me to pull them up. And the deception that we many times get under, is we think “I’ve got to stay with such and such a person, or group, or business arrangement, whatever it is, because I’ve got to save them.”
The danger is they’re going to end up influencing you negatively more than you can influence them positively. And the example of standing on the chair, and having someone try to pull you off, and you pull them up, is designed to illustrate this point. It is something that is never fun when it happens, separation. I don’t enjoy it any more than you do, but part of walking with the Lord is simply a gift where you just give the gift of goodbye. You’re not rude, you’re not nasty. You just say to yourself, “God has something bigger in mind.”
And so this is what is happening now between this man Lot and this man Abram. And so what happens now is Abram takes the lead, because of this conflict, and he makes an offer. And as this offer is made you’re going to see Abram’s faith developing exponentially. Look at what he says there in verse 8, Genesis 13, notice verse 8. So Abram, notice Abram’s taking the initiative, said to Lot, “please let there be no strife,” note “meribah, “let there be no strife between you and me, or between my herdsmen and your herdsmen. For we are brothers. Let’s not go to war over this, because after all we’re related.”
Abram’s brother is Haran. From Haran came Lot, and so Lot was Abram’s nephew. Notice even within the family itself, this conflict is developing. “And so since we’re brothers, let’s be civil about this, and let me make you an offer.” And look at the offer that’s made here, verse 9: “Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If to the left, I’ll go to the right. Or if to the right, then I’ll go to the left. Let’s just work this out amicably. You take whatever you want. You go direction ‘A,’ I’ll take direction ‘B.’ You might like direction ‘B,’ fine. I’ll take direction ‘A.’”
Now what you’re watching here is a man that’s very different than how he was in chapter 12. This is a guy that’s maturing. This is a guy that’s growing. This is a guy that’s completely and totally stepping out on the basis of faith. You don’t see him fabricating here as he did in chapter 12. You don’t see him trying to manipulate circumstances as he did in chapter 12. What you see is a man that has started learning lessons, and he’s growing, and he’s walking by faith.
Some of the best advice again, lots of advice today, that I ever got in ministry is, “Just go
where a door opens. Don’t say, ‘Well, gosh, if I go to such and such a city how big is my church going to be? How can I ever get famous in that city? Don’t run a whole bunch of surveys, and studies trying to figure out the demographics, and whether you’re a good fit. Not that that stuff, in and of itself, is bad. Just go where God opens a door. Just bloom, we’re planted.”
And here I am over ten years later at this church, and I would say the Lord has blessed [this church], amen? This is what Abraham, or Abram, is demonstrating here. “I’ll take whatever pasture you don’t want, because after all, the whole land’s before us, and we’re related.”
And notice Lot’s response. Lot’s response is very different than Abram’s.
And the response is in verses 10 and 11. And notice verse 10: “Lot lifted up his,” what does this say? “His eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere.”
This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. It was like the garden of Eden, or the garden of the Lord. I think there is a reference to the garden of Eden. Like the land of Egypt as you go to Zohar.
When it says, “Lot lifted up his eyes and saw,” it’s deliberately designed by the Holy Spirit to get us to contrast two people. One man is obviously walking by faith. Because, he says, “whatever you don’t want I’ll take.” Not knowing what decision Lot was going to make.
Lot by contrast is walking completely and totally by sight. You know, the walk of sight, it doesn’t help us too much does it? It’s a problem that goes all the way back to the book of Genesis chapter 3, and verse 6.
Sounds like we have a worship choir today. You know what we can do, we can take all our cell phones and we can kind of put them in unison, and I’ll just be up here, and no, Genesis written out, and usually when I say something like this, my cell phone goes off.
It says, “when the woman saw,” Genesis 3 verse 6, “that the tree was good for food, that it was a delight to the eyes, and it was desirable to make one wise.”
The decision that Lot is making here is designed to parallel with the decision of the woman in Eden. It is completely different in comparison to the trajectory that Abram is on, where God is going to talk to Abram, when he’s childless, at an old age, and he’s going to tell Abram, “look at the stars. As the stars themselves cannot be counted, so will your descendants be.” A promise that made no sense to the eyes. It made no sense to the natural world, and yet Genesis 15 verse 6 says, “then he,” that’s Abram, “believed in the Lord.”
God wants Abram to get to that point where he’s willing to embrace the full plan and program of God by way of faith, but he can’t do that when he is unequally yoked to someone that’s walking by sight.
2 Corinthians chapter 4 and verse 18 says, “for the things which are seen are,” what, “temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. Both men [are] relatives, both men equal status in terms of wealth, both men blessed, but one is walking by sight, the other is walking by faith. One is learning from his mistakes, the other apparently is not.
“And as long as you continue with him you can’t become what I want you to be. So I’ll create a situation where your employees can’t get along with each other, and the two of you have to split.” That’s the leading of the Spirit.
Lot was impressed with the Jordan valley, which was well watered. It says here in verse 10 that this was before the topography was altered through the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In fact, it looks so good to Lot [that] it looked like the well-watered garden of Eden that we read about in Genesis 2. And it looked like the Nile delta in Egypt, which was a well-watered area. That’s what verse 10 is communicating.
Now as you read this does this sound like, as liberals tell us, this was written by someone centuries later? No this reads like somebody who understood the geography, and understood the topography of the area, because they were an eyewitness. Because the liberal mind wants you to believe, through the Documentary Hypothesis that we’ve talked about in this study, and in our introduction to the book of Genesis, that this was compiled by someone way after the time, and it doesn’t read like that at all.
The geography is described, the time is described before Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed. And it’s like Egypt etc. And notice, if you will, verse 11, “so Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward.” Do you see that word “chose”? You see that word “for himself”? What was Lot ultimately concerned about at the end of the day? He was concerned about Lot. What was Abram concerned about? He was concerned about Lot and Abram. Lot was basically a self-centered person, who was essentially looking out for number one.
The book of Philippians chapter 2, and verses 3 and 4, says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or empty deceit. But with all humility of mind regard one another as more important than ourselves.” Wow, that’s pretty hard to do, isn’t it? “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests but for the interests of others.”
Just a simple point of application. Where do we spend most of our time in terms of our thoughts? Is it about us and what we’re going to get out of the deal? Or are we looking out for the benefits of others because that’s what Jesus did? Jesus, our role model, whose death, burial, resurrection and ascension we celebrated today, by way of memorial at the Lord’s Table, was all about other people. He wasn’t all about himself or he never would have left heaven to die that horrific death two thousand years ago.
Abram, as far as I can tell, in terms of his growth, was all about other people. Lot, by contrast, not walking by faith but walking by sight, was all about Lot, and so consequently God, through omniscience, sees this and separates the two men. You see at the end of verse 11, “thus, they separated from each other.” Probably, when that experience happened to Abram, it seemed negative, but God is saying to him, “Don’t worry about it, this is positive. I mean, down the road this is actually going to be a benefit to you, although you cannot see it at the time. Lot will have his own story, it’s just not part of your story.” The gift of goodbye.
And where did Abram settle? Verse 12, it says, “and Abram settled in the land of Canaan.” That would make sense because God had given him the land of Canaan. So you see here how Abram is moving into his promises. He is a different guy than he is in chapter 12, where he’s running. He leaves Canaan and goes to Egypt. Now, he is, by faith, accepting by faith, what God said, that “Canaan is yours.” And look at verse 12 look at the end of it there. “Abram settled in the land of Canaan.”
Now watch this: “while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tent as far as Sodom. Not a nice place, Sodom. Because the next verse says, “Now the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked, and sinners against the Lord.” One of the things to understand about this man Lot, who I believe was a believer in the Old Testament sense of the word. Because Peter, in 2 Peter chapter 2, verses 7 and 8, calls Lot “a righteous man.” Not once, not twice, but three times.
He was righteous positionally, but he was not righteous practically. He was not living according to his position. In New Testament verbiage we would call him a backslidden Christian, a carnal Christian. Don’t get the idea here that this man Lot is on his way to Hell. That is not what the Bible teaches. What it teaches is he started to make bad choices, and his bad choices took him down, down, down, down to places that he never thought he would ever visit. And his life, although his soul went to heaven, doesn’t end well.
And how did it start? It starts right there in verse 12. Because some of you right now are in verse 12. Something’s going on in your mind where you’re making bad choices. And those bad choices are going to eventually lead to bad actions, because of the power of the mind. How did it all start for Lot? He just pitched his tent towards Sodom. It doesn’t say he went into Sodom, he was just looking at Sodom. He was thinking about Sodom. All he did was he pitched his tent in that direction, and how does it end for Lot? Eventually he’s going to be on the city gates at Sodom. Genesis 19 verse 1, that’s a position of leadership.
This is going to be the guy who’s going to take his virgin daughters, if you can imagine this, and offer them sexually to a sodomite crowd. This is the guy who at the end of his life will be in a drunken state, having an incestuous relationship with his two daughters. And out of those unholy unions are going to come the Ammonites and the Moabites, perennial enemies of the nation of Israel. And how did that process of downward descent start? It started right here in the arena of his mind. He’s not physically doing anything, yet he’s just thinking about it, and this is the beginning of the end for him.
Arnold Fruchtenbaum puts it this way, “Before leaving the discussion of Abram and Lot’s separation, it should be noted that Lot’s progression and association went through five steps. First, he looked towards Sodom and could see good territory, that it was. Second, he chose the area of Sodom. Third, he pitched his tent near Sodom, and at this point he was outside the city still living the life of a nomad, just as earlier Abraham was outside of Shechem, and outside of Bethel. Fourth, Lot lived in Sodom.” See the progression here? And “fifth, he sat at the gate of Sodom, meaning he became a citizen of the city, and he became an elder of the city.”
Nobody wakes up and says, “I think I’m going to become an immoral person in my life.” Nobody does that. What we start doing is we just make a little compromise here, or a little compromise there, in the arena of the mind.
How does that saying go? “Sow a thought, reap in action. Sow an action, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.” I will be able to, if I had access to your mind, I could tell you a lot about where you’re going to be in ten years from now, on all kinds of issues, simply by what is being allowed into the arena of the mind, currently.
I had a pastor that put it like this: “Private thoughts will eventually lead to public actions.” Why is that” Because of the power of the mind, God-given. Proverbs 23 verse 7 says, “for as a man
thinks within himself, so he is.” This is why there’s so much data in the Bible about allowing the
Word of God to consistently penetrate the arena of the mind. Joshua 1 and verse 8 says, “the book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night.”
Psalm 1 verse 2: “Of the wise man his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in his Law he meditates on it day and night.”
This is why Romans 12 verse 2 admonishes us to renew our mind. “Well, gee, pastor, what should we be thinking about? Are you going to give us a bunch of rules?” No, I’m going to give you biblical principles. Philippians 4 verse 8 says, “finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good rapport, if there is any excellence, if anything worthy of praise.” What does this say? “Dwell on these things.”
I would venture to say this, that when Lot pitched his tent towards Sodom, he had failed the test of Philippians 4 verse 8, which uses there about seven or eight descriptors concerning what we ought to be thinking about.
The truth of the matter is Satan has targeted your mind. He knows if he can influence the way you think, he will influence what you do down the road, because of the power of the mind. The 9/11 hijackers did not have to get control of every square inch of the airplane. All they had to control was where the pilot sits, up front, because if you control that little part of the plane, probably pretty small in comparison to the plane as a whole, you control the direction of the plane.
“Well Pastor, but doesn’t the Bible say Jesus loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life?” He does, but can I give you the other side of that? Satan hates you, and has a terrible plan for your life, and he’s trying to get you, he’s trying to get me, to compromise in the arena of the mind.
Because, what we’re thinking about eventually, as in the case of Lot, will determine how we act. That’s why 2 Corinthians 4 verse 4 says, “the God of this world has blinded the mind of the unbelieving.” He’s targeting the mind. That’s why as we put on the full armor of God, one of the pieces of armor that we are to put on is the helmet, which protects the mind, doesn’t it?
The helmet of salvation.
I had someone put it to me this way. I’ll tell you exactly where your life is going to be, career-wise, ten years from now based on the books you’re reading right now. I’ll be able to tell you where you end up on the career trajectory based on what you’re allowing into the arena of
the mind, currently, because the mind, as God has designed it, is powerful. God knows it, Satan knows it, and so the battle is always the mind.
And if there’s ever a generation that needs to hear this, it’s our current generation. Because, when you upgrade your cable at home, rather than having just thirteen channels, which I used to have when I was growing up. Instead of thirteen channels, now I’ve got 500. Or, now I just don’t have thirteen stupid things I can watch, I now have 500 stupid things I can watch.
And all I have to do is get out my little device here, and do a click here, or a click there, and boom, all kinds of stuff, good or bad, is coming into the arena of the mind.
And try flying international first class, which I have to fly on, I have to suffer for the Lord somehow, because I don’t fit anywhere else, amen? And look at station after station, movie after movie, after movie, after movie, A to Z that you can pick from, and let into the arena of your mind for two hours, two and a half hours, and no one will know the difference. I mean, how should I, how would I, spend my time? Do I just allow into my mind all of this fleshliness? Or do I spend my time meditating on God’s Word?
Sometimes I make the wrong decision, sometimes I make the right decision. But it’s a powerful exhortation because you see it happening here with Lot. It seems so innocent what he did here. He just pitched his tent towards Sodom, and yet that mental activity leading to physical activity influenced the direction of his whole life. And so we’ll pick it up here, verse 13, next time as we’ll see a divine commentary on the city of Sodom, that Lot chose to ruminate upon.
If you’re here today, and you don’t know Christ personally, and you’re put under condemnation because of the things we have said, don’t take it personally, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” amen? All of us have fallen short of God’s standard, if not physically, then at least mentally. And the good news, is, we celebrated communion this morning, that Jesus stepped out of eternity into time to pay a price for our sin, that we could never pay. His final words on the cross were, “it is finished.” Where he asks us, better said, commands us, to trust in what he’s done for us, to fix our problem, rather than what we do for ourselves. So that’s why we like to conclude our services with the gospel, which means “good news,” meaning it’s all paid for. Just trust in the completed and finished work of Christ, and suddenly in a nanosecond your citizenship changes and your heaven bound.
Don’t hold out for a better deal. None exists. It’s all about the gospel. Anybody within the sound of my voice can receive Christ now, as the Spirit places people under conviction, by not raising a hand, by not joining a church, by not walking an aisle, but just a matter of privacy between them and the Lord, where they’re convicted of their need to do this. And they put their confidence for their eternity, and the safe keeping of their soul, into Jesus Christ, and Him alone.
And that is not a twelve-step program. It’s a one-step program that makes the lost sinner right with God. The Bible, 160 times, tells us to do this. It’s going to happen with Abram in Genesis 15 verse 6. Abram believed God and it was credited to him for righteousness. Believe God, trust the gospel, and watch what God does. How he takes the righteousness of Jesus and transfers it to your life in a moment, and God looks upon you as if you’re just as righteous as his Son. If it’s something that you need more explanation on, I’m available after the service to talk.
Shall we pray? Father, we’re grateful for this historical account and the things that it teaches us. I pray that we’ll leave here walking with you in the week that you have before us. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. And God’s people said, [amen].